“Get a Personal Trainer for Your Computer!”©

NOTE:  Items highlighted in RED are defined elsewhere in this Glossary, while items highlighted in BLUE are site links for further information.


.Net:  See Dot Net.

N+1:  Stands for a redundancy concept  where capacity is configured to include one additional (spare) device in case the main item breaks or requires service.  Means “need + 1 spare”.

NAC:  Stands for “Network Access Control”.  This was a popular security technology circa 2006, involving both hardware and software, that controls access to networks,  offered by companies such as Cisco, Nevis Networks and Juniper.  Due to its difficult interface, as well as the move to cloud technology, it is rapidly being replaced by SDPs (“Software Defined Perimeters”).

NAK:  See ACK.

DR. NAKAMATS:  [Actual name: Yoshiro Nakamatsu.]  A prolific Japanese inventor (b. 6/26/28) , Dr. Nakamatsbest known for his invention of the floppy disk and the fax machine, also magnetic paper train tickets and the music synthesizer. He has already invented more (3218) inventions than Thomas Edison (only 1093), Steve Jobs (313) or Bill Gates (9) and has earned the IG Nobel Prize (for his research on nutrition).  He dresses in expensive suits, is the host of the World Genius Convention, even has his own theme song.  Click HERE for more history about Dr. NakaMats.

Who holds the U.S. record for most patents?  Lowell Wood exceded Thomas Edison’s record in 2015, and has literally thousands more inventions pending.  For a great discussion about this little-known genius see Bloomberg Business Week, 10/26/15 - 11/1/2015, p. 58 - 61. 

NAND: See Flash Memory.  This is a type of (non-volatile) flash memory, introduced by Toshiba in the late 1980s, with a much faster read/write performance, which has become the core of USB storage devices, as well as most memory card formats, now available.

NANOSECOND: Abbrev: “ns”.  One billionth of a second.  That’s 1/1,000,000,000 second or the power of 10 to the -9th seconds.  This designation is often used to measure computer operations such as the speed of memory chips.

NANOTECHNOLOGY: The designing and engineering of functional systems at the molecular and atomic level, the smallest possible level.  This means dealing with tolerances of less than 100 nanometers (hence the name; a nanometer is one billionth of a meter).  As devices must get smaller and rICHARD fEINMANsmaller (because of physical limitations, as with computer chips, click HERE) or to service a specific purpose (like Smart Dust and other micro-robotics, click HERE ), designers and manufacturers must resort to producing semiconductors and devices at a far smaller level, and that is where nanotechnology becomes important.  The “father of nanotechnology” is physicist Richard Feynman of CalTech (right), who presented his ideas as far back as 1959. For a great tutorial, see

NAPSTER:  Developed by Shawn Fanning in 1999 while he was attending the Northeastern University, this was the Shawn Fanning photooriginal free Internet MP3 file sharing program.  Also the original subject of copyright infringement lawsuits.  As a result, it’s now a pay service. According to, Shawn Fanning earned the nickname “Napster” because of his thick, curly hair, which his schoolmates called “nappy” (hear that, Don Imus?).  When Shawn wrote the music-swapping software, he affectionately named it after himself.  On 11/30/11 Napster ceased business and was merged with Rhapsody, the largest on-demand music service in the U.S. at that time.

NAS:  See Storage.

NASCENT:  A fancy word for “new” or “emerging” or “just coming into existence”.  Thus, nascent technology is “new” technology, possibly emerging from an older technology!  (For example, Encryption technology was a nascent technology arising out of e-mail technology.)  The opposite of nascent is LEGACY, which means “old”.  Daisy wheel printers are legacy hardware; Wordstar word processing software is legacy software.

NAT:  Network Address Translation.  NAT is usually used to translate a “private” IP address to a “public” IP address, often through a router or firewall.  The “public” will see only the address leading to your private (sometimes called “outside”) network, but not the private (“inside”) addresses for each computer on the network, which remains hidden and is protected because each incoming or outgoing request must go through a translation process that also offers the opportunity to qualify or authenticate the request or match it to a previous request.  For more public/private discussion, refer to this Link.

NATURAL LANGUAGE:  Refers to a language spoken by humans.  For example, you can enable natural language in Windows Search rather than queries.

NATURAL NUMBER:  A number that occurs commonly in nature.  It is a whole, non-negative number.

NATIVE CAPACITY:  Sometimes “raw” capacity.  The true capacity of a media, as opposed to its stated capacity.  For example, the stated capacity of a CD may be 700Mb, but its raw capacity may be 670Mb.

NATIVE FORM:  Refers to the “original form.”  For example, many applications can work with files in a variety of formats by converting the files to that applications own native format, but that applications native format is the one that it uses internally.  So, when Sun claims that Star Office works with Mac OS X in its native format, this means that the program is written in OS X format, and does not have to be converted for it to be used.

NAV BAR: a/k/a “navigation bar”.  On a web site, one or more buttons or images, often located down the left side (or bottom) of the web page [such as the one on this site] that interconnect the user to other pages on the site.

EN DASH: See, EM Dash.


NEGROPONTE, NICHOLAS: An AmericanNicholas Negroponte architect who was the founder of the MIT Media Lab, best known as the founder of the One Laptop Per Child Association.  (See, OLPC)  He was also involved in the creation of Wired Magazine, as an initial investor and columnist.

NERD: See, Geek.

NETCASTING: See, Push Technology.

NETIQUETTE: The etiquette on the Internet.

NETIZEN: Derived from the word citizen, this refers to a citizen of the Internet, someone who uses networked resources, connoting participation and responsibility.

netscapeNETSCAPE: One of the two most popular web browsers in the 1990s - Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Developed by a team led by Marc Andreesen in about 1993, it was originally known as Mosaic, and it was the first Web browser which had a GUI.  Andreesen and Jim Clark brought the browser public in 1995, which was really the beginning of the Internet boom.  However, because Microsoft’s Internet Explorer came bundled with Microsoft’s Windows 95 Operating System, a lengthy anti-trust suit was brought by the U.S.   Dept. of Justice against Microsoft, starting what became known as “browser wars”. Although Netscape won, years later, as a result of the dispute, Netscape’s share of the browser market declined substantially and eventually became acquired by AOL. When Time Warner disbanded AOL in 2003, the browser reverted to Netscape’s web site for download; the Netscape brand also created “Propeller,” a social bookmarking and news site.  In 1998, Netscape started the open-source Mozilla project which developed the popular Mozilla web browser.

Novell Net WareNETWARE: One of the early, now obsolete, PC networking programs from Novell.

NET NEUTRALITY [THE “OPEN INTERNET]:  Net neutrality, at its most basic level, Tim Wumeans that data packets will be sent and received over the Internet at the same speed, regardless of what they contain or who sends or receives them.  The term itself was coined by Columbia law professor Tim Wu in his 2003 paper “Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination”.  Could be video, could be a spreadsheet, could be e-mail.  Doesn’t matter. The concept is that all users of the Internet (whether they are individuals or businesses, minimal users or high-end bandwidth users) are entitled to the same bandwidth speeds from their ISPs.  For years now, the ISPs have been pressing for a “tiered” delivery and price structure, charging more to high bandwidth users who upload and download large files, watch streaming video or use constant Internet service, less to users who only pick up e-mail and view the occasional web site. Opponents of this structure charge that this gives the ISPs control to dictate priority over which content will move fast and which should be slowed down, and to charge for higher speed connections accordingly.  For further information, see the far more detailed discussion HERE.


NETWORKS:  Simply stated, a computer network consists of two or more computers (and typically other devices, such as printers, modems, routers and switches) that are linked together so that they can communicate with each other and exchange data and resources.  Each hardware device on the network is called a “node” and each node is connected through a variety of cables or wirelessly to the other devices on the network, then uses software to communicate with each other, often with various restrictions known as “permissions”. 

MORE DETAIL, if you’re interested: Each network also has its own topology or layout [i.e. bus, star, tree, tier, ring, etc.  (see diagram under Topology definition)].  Small networks are called LANs (local area networks), typically within a single building.  Wide Area Networks (WANs) cover much larger areas and are typically connected via telephone or radio networks.  MANs (Metropolitan Area Networks) can serve entire towns, cities or college campuses.  A subnetwork (“subnet”) is is a logically visible subdivision of an IP network.

Flat networks, sometimes called switched networks,”  are networks in which all workstations are directly connected to each other, except for the presence of switches, and can communicate without the need for intermediate devices such as routers. A flat network is one without subnets, and as a result, its topology is not divided into layers or modules. Every station on a flat network receives a copy of every message sent. Security is therefore poor and it is not possible to establish alternative paths to destinations. A flat network is the opposite of segmented network, one which is broken up into groups in order to contain broadcast traffic and thus improve performance and security.

In addition, networks can be either workgroups or domains.  Most home computer networks are workgroups.  By default, Windows computers have their own names and are part of a network named “WORKGROUP”.  No computer on the workgroup has any control over any other, passwords are not required, and all computers are equals, although permissions may be adjusted to determine what is shared over the network.  This arrangement arose because they grew out of the need for computers on a home network to share files and PCs.  Domains, on the other hand are a different animal.  One can’t just join or leave a domain network without the domain administrator’s permission.  Domains are generally used by large corporate computer networks so that the domain controler is in charge of what you can and cannot do.  The core concept of domains is that the institution that provides the computers can centrally administer them through group policies and even lock them down. 

The names of the computers and other devices on a network can be either names or IP addresses.  Names are usually descriptions like “Bill” or “Front Desk” and IP addresses are in the usual format of “”. Usually, the front part of the IP address is the router (e.g. and the devices follow the numerical pattern for the office (e.g., 3, 4, etc.) IP addresses are static and do not change. They must be static (i.e. permanent) because otherwise the DHCP settings on the router will reassign the addresses when the lease periodically expires from your ISP.  So the IP addresses must be manually configured (with DHCP disabled on the router) or done through the router’s DHCP reservation feature, if it has one. The computers/devices must configured in Windows by navigating to the properties dialogue box for each one, then opening the TCP/IP entry in the Internet Protocol list box, then use the normal or alternate configuration method to specify the settings.  Remember, your IP address must be the same subnet as the router (discussed above), the same subnet mask (usually, the default gateway being the router’s IP address, and the preferred DNS is either your router’s IP adress or the DNS server’s IP address, if it’s known. Cisco has a great tutorial about how to do this on their site.

Moreover, each network is composed of layers.  To learn more about the OSI model, which defines these layers, click HERE.

An internet is a collection of smaller networks; the Internet is the worldwide network of interconnected internets using a standardized communication protocol called TCP/IP.  An intranet is a private network within an organization that uses the same protocols as the Internet.  When all of part of an intranet is made accessible outside the intranet (e.g. to suppliers or customers) that part becomes an extranet.

* * * * * * * * *

The concept of network sharing has historically evolved between the creation of computers to today in various stages:

COMPUTERS -  Stand Alone, 1940s+ (see Who Invented)

COMPUTER NETWORKS - Cabled and Wireless - 1950s+






IoT - 2014+

>>>As computers evolved from individual isolated machines, into networks of machines, into interconnected machines over the Internet, there has been an exponential rise in their usefulness.

For a discussion about how to share files on a network, click HERE.

See also, Software Defined Networking, Host, Peer-to-Peer, Internet, Public vs. Private, and LAN Diagram, Topology, Neural Network, Internet Transmission Protocols.

NETWORK TAP: TAP = Test Access Point.  A hardware device which inserted at a specific point in a network in order to monitor data.  This passive type of TAP is an alternative to the Switched Port Analyzer (“SPAN”) ports which have “mirror” functions and are built into many brands of switches and routers.

NEURAL NETWORK (“NN” or “ANN”):  In computing, a system of programs and data structures that approximate the operation of the human brain by assimilating large amounts of data and knowledge and then using algorithms, fuzzy logic, Bayesian logic and other arithmetic and AI methods to determine how to behave in response to various situations.  It is so named because, like the human brain, it consists of a group of interconnected “neurons” and is an adaptive system based on the internal and external information fed to the “brain” during the learning phase, is trained to spot relationships and patterns in learned data and can build upon itself.  It presently does this through both deep convolutional networks as well as long short-term memory recurrent models.  It is thought that the Internet itself mimics a neural network.  As computers become more powerful, neural networking is being used, for example, in novelty photo apps (see discussion at Prisma), medicine, physics, language translation, sitcom-writing and music, raising the larger question about whether computers can be “creative” without humans.  See also, Computers for more about neural computers. And AI andtranslation apps.

Neural networkA biological neural network  consists of physically interconnected neurons which communicate with each other via an electrochemical process. They interface through dendrites, or input connections, which are connected to other neurons by synapses and a single axon (output connection).  The entire circuit functions as an entity of interconnected neurons that work together.

neural network diagramSimilarly, an artificial neural network (“ANN”) consists of an interconnect ed group of artificial neurons, connected via physical connection or cable or wireless, using electrical impulses, all governed by mathematical or computational rules so that they work together to discern patterns and solve problems in a non-linear fashion.

Newton logoNEWTON: (1) The first personal digital assistant (“PDA”) developed by Apple between 1989 and 1998, running the Newton operating system, which included such features as Calligrapher, a handwriting recognition system.  It was introduced in 1993 at $699.  But, alas, it had no desktop connectivity.  And a very short battery lifetime.  For these and other reasons, the Newton had limited customer acceptance.  It was followed by the MessagePad, although neither product ever gained wide acceptance.  Many think that, in hindsight, it was just too far ahead of its time. See iPad, Tablet. (2) It’s also a standard measure of force, named after Sir Isaac Newton.  One newton equals the amount of force necessary to accelerate a mass of one gram at one metre per second.

NeXT logoNeXT: A computer (and a company) created by Steve Jobs (one of Apple’s Next Computerfounders) and sold starting in 1988.  A futuristic black cube with a hi-res display and graphic interface, it was ahead of its time from a design standpoint and had few programs that could take advantage of its speed and graphic abilities.  It used a then-unheard-of 64-bit operating system called NeXTStep.  By 1993, it was discontinued, although Jobs continued to offer OpenStep, the object-oriented components of NeXTStep.  In 1996, when Apple re-hired Jobs, it also purchased NeXT software, later offering OpenStep as a development environment for object-oriented applications running on multiple platforms. NeXT became Apple OS X which, under Avie Tevanian, became wildly successful.  Tim Berners-Lee created some of the first prototypes for the World Wide Web on a NeXT computer, and the game Doom was written one one as well.

NEXTED: A slang term used in internet chat rooms to denote when one of the parties to a chat discontinues the conversation and moves on to the “next” chatter e.g. on such sites as

NEXT GEN: See, “G”.  The “next generation” of hardware or software.

Newser_logoNEWSER: A news aggregation site that disNewser_screen_shotplays current summaries of headlines news stories in tiles with photos for easy reading (see right for screen shot).

NFC logoNFC: Near Field Communication.   A form of short range wireless two-way communication where an antenna produces either an electric or a magnetic (but not an electromagnetic) field with a very limited range, which is picked up by a receiver within that range.  Many mobile phones use electric field NFC operating at a frequency of 13.56 MHz, starting with Android 4.0 “Android Beam”.  [Technical details:  Android 4.4 and later uses Host Card Emulation (“HCE”) for payments, loyalty programs, card access, transit passes and other custom services.  HCE requires an NFC controller to be present in the device.  With HCE, any app on an Android device can emulate an NFC smart card, letting users tap to initiate transactions using the app of their choice without any provisioned secure element (“SE”) required.  (Apps can also use a new “reader mode” to act as readers for HEC cards and other NFC-based transactions.)  Android HCE emulates USO/IEC (see Associations) 7816 contactless smart cards that use the ISO/IEC 14443-4 (ISO-DEP) protocol for transmission.  These cards are used by many systems today, including the common EMVCO-NFC payment infrastructure.  Android uses the application identifiers (“AIDs”) as defined in the ISO/IEC 7816-4 as the basis for routing transactions to the correct Android apps, which declare the AIDs the support in their manifest files, along with a category identifier that indicates the type of support available (e.g. payments).  So, when the userNFC logo taps to pay at a point-of-sale terminal, the system extracts the preferred AID and routes the transaction to the correct application.  The app then reads the transaction data and can use any local or network-based services to verify and then complete the transaction.]  It’s speed is slow (about 1/4 that of Bluetooth, see Speeds) and the range is far shorter (4 inches or less), but it also uses far less (15 mA) power, making it ideal for smart phones.  And Bluetooth requires “pairing” while NFC doesn’t.  But see HERE (wallet) and HERE for an explanation about how Samsung Pay works.

NFC TAG: A type of RFID tag, the Near Field Communication tag (there are four types), which must be read by a special reader (which are built into some Nokia, Philips and Sony and smartphone chips, but not every smart phone) which allow “sharing, pairing and transactions” such that they can be perform sucNFC tagh functions as paying for goods over the phone, purchasing tickets for movies and transportation, paying for Starbuck’s coffees, parking, unlocking doors, exchanging information such as business cards, identification documents and the like.  But, while RFID is a one-way street, NFC goes both directions.  Also, there’s Google credit card payments via “mobile wallets.”   Introduced in 2003, and originally manufactured by Israeli firm SmartCode, its advantage is its smaller size and lower cost.  It’s not taking off as fast as expected.  But it’s not nearly as powerful or accurate as Apple’s iBeacon (see definition for more), introduced with iOS 7 in 2013, which uses Bluetooth low energy, has greater range and doesn’t require special smartphone chips.  As a result, iBeacon can beam advertisements, coupons and other features to an iPhone as owners enter and stroll the aisles in stores, baseball stadiums and the like.  An advertisers dream, iBeacon is accurate to within 3 feet can handle more bandwidth and doesn’t require as large a capital investment, particularly because it has greater range. 

2/15/16:  Samsung pay vs. Apple Pay. You know the TV commercial where comedian Hannibal Buriss goes to Katz’s Deli in NY to pay for a pastrami sandwich with his phone armed with Samsung Pay, with the tag line that it works almost anywhere, unlike Apple Pay?  How’s that possible?  First, because Apple Pay isn’t really at that many merchants.  But mostly because SP works with almost any pay terminal, since it doesn’t rely solely on NFC (“Near Field Communications) to process the payment, but also  adds MST or Magnetic Secure Transmission.  While NFC requires a special wireless terminal, MSC works with existing magnetic strip credit card readers.  So that’s how they do it!

NFV: Network Functions Virtualization”:  Often used hand-in-hand with SDN (“Software Defined Networking”) in larger enterprises, it “decouples” network functions such as NAT, DNS, firewall, intrusion detection, caching, etc. from their individual proprietary hardware, allowing these functions to be run through a software program.  There is an ETSI (see Associations) specification for NFV.  See also, white box.

NGO: Short for Non Government Organization.

NIC: Network Interface Card”.  This is a physical card that inserts into a port inside your computer that allows you to connect to a wireless network.  It can be either wired to accept an ethernet cable, or wireless (using a built-in antenna).

NIGERIAN (a/k/a 419) SCAM: A very popular internet con in the 80s and still active today, it works when a con artist sends out an e-mail requesting help in retrieving substantial funds which are locked out from him, usually in Nigeria (the “419” telephone area code), if only the mark would assist in getting out the money in their own name, for which they would be entitled to a share of the proceeds.  For a (relatively) small advance fee, naturally.  Which is, of course, the con, as the money is never transmitted, while the con artist continually requests “just another small amount, we’re almost there” to cover wire charges, bribes to local officials, etc.  See also 419, hoaxes, security, spyware.

NILM: Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring.  Used by “smart” electric meters to monitor and analyze power loads.  This technology is so sophisticated that it can tell by the power signature what appliances and devices you are using and when.  It can distinguish a microwave from a fridge, or a light bulb in a bathroom from one in the kitchen.  See also, IoT.  It can cut both ways, however:  While it may be used to alert a homeowner of a failing appliance, it can also be used by police to detect meth labs or grow labs (which use lots of power) or terrorist activity (lots of people suddenly living in a house), or by marketers to detect the socioeconomic status of a person by their daily usage.

NIM: Network Interface Module.  A piece of electronic equipment attached to a coaxial outlet with an ethernet jack on it which can then be attached to a router.

nintendo-logoNINTENDO:  A Japanese gaming company that for 67 years had just one product, Hanafuda playing cards, until in 1956 the founder’s grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, visited the UNES.S. and saw the potential for electronic games, making Nintendo a major player in the gaming market.  The Nintendo Entertainment System (“NES”) was introduced in 1985 which had a group of video games and was popular through its discontinuation in 1995. Now, with the resurgence of Pokemon Go in 2016, the “mini-NES” with some thirty games will be re-introduced in November, 2016.  In 2017, the Nintendo Switch wSwitch logoas introduced, a game system that is portable (like a Game Boy or 3DS) but also connects to a TV.  This is a change from the Nintendo Wii in 2006, designed with a game system one can take on the go, with a pop-out kickstand and wirless motion controllers that snap right in place. 

NIS: Network Information Service. a/k/a “YP”. A UNIX authentication protocol developed by SUN in 1985 which uses distributed text files on a server to map password, group and other files.  It is, amazingly, still used today.  Alternatives are LDAP with or without Kerberos or Microsoft Active Directory.

NIU: Network Interface Unit (also sometimes Network Interface Device or “NID”) and various other acronyms.  This is the device that serves as the demarcation point between the carrier’s local loop an the customer’s premises wiring. Usually the telephone line is connected to one side DEMARCof a weatherproof box attached to the outside of the premises, and the customer’s wiring runs from the opposite side.  The phone company owns both the NIU and all wiring up to it, while the customer owns and is responsible for all wiring out of the unit to the premises.  Hence the term “demarc” for the demarcation point at which the telephone company’s service ends and the customer’s hardware commences.  The unit may be as simple as a set of wiring terminals, or as complex as a smart jack (which may have additional diagnostic capabilities) or an Optical Network Terminal (“ONT”) for fibre-to-premises use.

‘nix: A shortcut to represent the various types of Unix code, line Unix, Linux, etc.  Just like WinX represents the various versions of Windows.

NK2: This is the file in a computer program which governs “autocompletion”.  For example, the file which completes the Outlook email address in a new message.  It is a complicated and proprietary algorithm, and is not an MRU (“Most Recently Used”) or other type of file.

NLA: Network Location Awareness.  This Windows service is responsible for collecting and maintaining network configuration and location information and notifying applications when it changes.  When you move from your office wireless network to Starbucks Wi-Fi with your computer, NLA makes sure your computer’s applications are aware of this change.

NODE: Any intelligent device connected to a network.  This can be not only a computer, but a server, a printer or any other connected device.

NOISE:  Interference with a transmitted signal, click HERE for more.  See dirt for electrical signal interference.

NOKIA:  A Finnish cellular phone manufacturer which originally started business as a paper mill.


NONCE: A term used in security engineering as an abbreviation for “number used once.”  A random number (like a “salthash) issued in an authentication protocol to ensure that it is used only once.

NONREPUDIATION: The assurance that the authenticity of a signature, communication or the like cannot be denied.  This term is frequently used in computers to describe the nature of a digital signature, which is created by and is unique to a single individual.  But, of course, nothing is ever foolproof.

NON-VOLATILE: A general term for all forms of solid state (no moving parts) memory that do not need to have their memory contents constantly refreshed such as RAM, i.e. the memory is saved after the device is turned off.  This would include NAND (see above), ROM, PROM, EPROM, EEPROM, FLASH, And battery powered RAM.  See also, Firmware.

NOR: See Flash Memory.  This is a type of flash memory which first came to market from Toshiba in 1988, which has long erase and write times, but provides full address and data buses, allowing random access to any memory location.

Norton logoNORTON ANTIVIRUS: One of the major anti-virus vendors (along with McAfee), developed and distributed by Symantec Corporation in 1991.  One of the first anti-virus programs to use signatures and heuristics to identify viruses.

NoSQL: Not Only SQL; See SQL for more.

newbie/newb/n00b:  Believe it or not, there are varyNewbieing shades to these definitions: A “newbie” or “newb” is someone who is new to something, a beginner who may be slightly overconfident but willing to learn.  A “n00b,” on the other hand, knows just as little, but isn’t willing to learn any more, and will let others do the task for them.  “n00b” is a leetspeak term that is said to have originally been derived from online gaming to describe someone who is not just inexperienced, but annoying and excessively stupid and who refuses to learn from people who are skilled.  Essentially “n00b” is an insult, while “newbie/newb isn’t.  See also, Geeks vs. Nerds.

Novell logoNOVELL: A multi-national software company headquartered in Provo, Utah, specializing in LAN technology.  It startedRay Noorda in 1979, founded by Ray Noorda (1924 - 2006, photo at right) and Drew Major, and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Attachment Group in 2011.  It’s first proprietary product, NetWare, was the first leader in LAN software, replacing the previous mainframe software used for networks, but its market share declined as companies like Microsoft embedded network software into their operating systems.  Similarly, Novell’s popular Group Wise Administrator (like Lotus Notes) declined in popularity as Microsoft Exchange dominated business e-mail platforms and users moved to the cloud e-mail services such as Gmail, Zimbra, iCloud, etc.  Noorda was personally instrumental in requiring training and certification for resellers of its products, an original idea.

NPC: Non Player Character.  Refers to a character in a MMORPG that is computer controlled rather than a player avatar.

NSFW: Not Safe For Work.  A term used to describe Internet content (e.g. e-mails) generally inappropriate for the typical workplace and which would be unacceptable in the presence of your boss or colleagues.  Opposite is SFW (Safe For Work).

NTFS - NT file system, sometimes New Technology File System, is one of the two most common file systems (the way in which files are named and where they are placed logically for storage and retrieval) used by Windows.  The other is FAT .  NTFS is considered faster and more desirable.  The file allocation table is an area on a hard or other disk where information is stored about the physical location of each piece of every file on the disk and also about the location of unusable areas of the disk. See also File System, Partitions, HDDs, ReFS.

NTP: Network Time ProtocolA system of thousands of networked computers, established in 1985, used to synchronize computer clocks across the Internet.  In early 2014, this protocol was used to flood servers in a denial of service (see Spyware) attack.

NULL MODEM CABLE - A special cable used for connecting two computers in close proximity, usually for data transfer, in which the sending and receiving wires are physically crossed.  The cable is attached to either the serial ports or parallel (slightly faster) ports of both machines and simulates a telephone modem transfer.  It derives its name from the fact that it does not require a telephone or a modem to transfer files, but instead does so directly with the cable.   Not used very often now, with the demise of serial and parallel ports on modern computers and the rise of portable USB drives and (faster) Internet file transfer utilities through Cloud computing.


NumbersNUMBER: We all know what a “number” looks like, right?  When you get more specific, especially in computing, things get a little more complex:

The textbook definition:  An arithmetic value, expressed by an integer, fraction or symbol, used to count, calculate or order items. Useful, huh?

Everyday explanation:  You first learned about numbers in grade school, each number usually represented by an everyday item, remember?  Count five carrots, take away two and you have three carrots.  Seems simple.


Computers use their own special types of numbers for lots of things.  There are many categories of numbers used by computers, not only in programming, but for things like Excel spreadsheets, databases, accounting, encryption and other everyday applications.  Respecting  computers alone, there are many common and useful general types of numbers:  Random (not ordered), sequential (in a particular order), bernoulli, prime (can be divided only 1 or  itself; important for cryptography), natural, rational (and irrational), composite and many others.  Integers are not exactly the same thing as numbers, as integers can only be whole, not fractional, numbers with only a positive, negative or zero value, unlike FLOPS (used to rank supercomputers) which use floating point” decimals for massive arithmetic calculations.

Algorithms, one of the most (over)used words in computing (“yeah, we’ve got an algorithm for that...”), are essentially formulas, where the elements represent numbers or calculations containing operations performed on unidentified-as-yet numbers.  See the link for more explanation.

Moreover, each category can have sub-categoriesSequential numbers may be as simple as a list of days in a month, or a  Fibonacci sequence in which each number is the sum of the two preceding ones. Cardinal numbers represent quantity.  Ordinal numbers are words representing a place in a sequential order, which may be ranked by size, date or other type of category.  Ordinal numbers may have importance in programs, like Excel values, for example.  


There are also many more specific representative “numbers” relating to computing, sometimes designated as “scores” or “ratings,” like Dunbar, Klout, Elo, Tiobe, Topcoder, eScore, PUE and Gini. Or the number of Twitter followers or FaceBook friends that a computer user might accumulate. Or a “Bacon Number,” which is a trivia game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where you try to connect different actors to Kevin Bacon via the films they have appeared in.  Also, some additional specific numbers (aside from the obvious, like Social Security) that may have special or universal meaning, like 666 (“the Devil”), 419 (“Nigerian Scam’),  420 (“pot smoker”), or 404 (“clueless”).  And this doesn’t even to begin to take into account those specific numbers which have their own representation, like Pi (3.1416) or the golden ratio (1.618) which often apply to computer design and programs.


For an explanation about binary numbers and how a computer sees and uses them digitally, see How Computers Compute.  See also Speeds for a variety of specific numbers representing device speeds and storage capacities as well.  And Bits and Bytes as well as Base-X for an explanation about how number systems work. See also, algorithm (which explains the differences between equations, formulas and algorithms), and Big 0 Notations.  For more numerical and math definitions common to computing, see exponential, tuple, Big Data, quants, etc. 

Finally, there’s always the universal answer for “the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything,”  which is said to be “42”. (Click to see why...)

 Murphy's War Laws #39:  Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.





























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